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House Leaders Debate Constitutional Amendment Rules

photo of Ohio House
The Ohio House will debate rules for constitutional amendments.

A hearing Thursday at the Statehouse focuses on a proposal designed to make it harder for citizens and groups to put constitutional amendments on the Ohio ballot.  The plan would have to be approved by voters if lawmakers approve it.

The proposal would move up the deadline to file for the ballot and amendments would need to pass by 60 percent, not just a simple majority. Democratic Leader Fred Strahornsays he’s reluctant to make the process to get to the voters harder.

“It hasn’t been abused because those things have failed.”

But Republican Speaker Ryan Smithsays any change in the state’s founding document should come from its own citizens, not from out of state groups like those that have backed recent amendments.

“It shouldn’t be driven from outside sources, and anybody that doesn’t think it is aren’t looking at the fundraising of Issue 1 and other issues.”

Smith says the plan would also would make it easier for citizens to put proposed laws, not amendments, before voters – and that legislators couldn’t change such a voter approved law for at least a year.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.